Daily Covet: Clinically Affected

Many of you probably know, or have caught vague mention here and there on the blog, that I have an alter ego who exists Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00 (or slightly beyond). She’s an office drone, typical as they go. Conservative clothes, sensible shoes, and, aside from a practiced laugh for awkward encounters she’s prone to, basically my opposite in every way. She’s an embarrassing little secret that I don’t often talk about here. However, today will be a bit of a reveal. Silly even to call it that, as the subject matter is by nature anticlimactic, but I’ve nonetheless built it up now so here goes:

In my other, office life I work in administration at a hospital.

I only bring it up now because of a strange experience last week. I was clicking through Refinery29 when I was suddenly faced with a clash of identities. It’s not a completely uncommon experience, given my situation; however, this was not marked by the usual vague dizziness and stomach turning of worlds colliding. This, in fact, gave a sense of satisfaction like the brief, knowing glance between friends who share a secret.

The piece that brought on my current reflections is this:

img_9661_5 img_9659_5

The Silver Coming and Going Hospital Bracelet by Cast of Vices, available at Oak.

To the designers, the piece may be symbolic of modern addiction, pop culture junkies, a self-medicated generation suffering existential ennui – but to me it is a sign of another condition… American Identity: You are what you do.

When I left the fashion and beauty industry three years ago to take a “responsible” job, the decision was not made without internal turmoil. I feared becoming one of the indistinguishable masses of young professionals invading pubs at happy hour in ill-fitting blazers or clomping about the city in Dansco clogs.

At the time H&M was selling a hospital bracelet – plastic or pleather maybe, but really little more than laminated paper. It filled me instantly with a sense of solidarity – to what, I wasn’t certain, but I bought two and wore one after another straight through until they dissolved.

I realize now that it was solidarity within myself. To some my dual life may seem borderline schizophrenic, but for all my OCD, ADD and various neuroses, I have resisted a chasm in my identity. I am still a creative, an eccentric, a writer and a fashion fiend, and no day job is changing that.

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12 Responses to Daily Covet: Clinically Affected

  1. lei ann says:

    awww sweetie, what a genuine heartfelt post (which i totally understand as i was a hospital administrator many moons ago as well)! no matter what you do (what *any* of us do in our every day boring jobs), i can’t even imagine you any other way than the cool, eccentric fashion fiend you are!


  2. Kristen says:

    Oh, I so hear you. I am a university administrator. Of couse, my “dirty little secret” is that I don’t dislike my job, or my profession! I can be good at it, and still be interested in fashion and art and design and literature and food and politics and all of the other things I like. There are many sides of us! So it feels weird to seperate them entirely. And one thing I love about many bloggers is that we wear many hats; have many interests. Fashion isnt relegated to those who work for glossy magazines. I do agree, though, that it can be uncomfortable for those things to fully collide. Which is hard when you are “on the internet”!


  3. Adrianne says:

    we are so multilayered in a culture thats pressing us to be defined by our jobs, husbands, titles, etc. – but alas all of us are pieces of this and that- making us uniquely our own. <3


  4. Rachael says:

    This is a great meditation. I was very curious what your job was at MGH. Also curious where in the midwest you are from; I’m from Michigan!


  5. noelani says:

    What is it about hospital administration that is just so draining? At first I thought it was the specific hospital, but after trying a few I realized it was the work! I am glad I found a balance with my blogging, my creative outlet, it makes me feel like a much more well rounded individual. Now if I could just win the lottery, imagine how well rounded I would be then?!


  6. Ok, so I read this post a week ago and I’ve been ruminating on it. To a lesser degree, I have the same issue: the clothes I love are not the clothes I can wear to work. But I still manage to put together some work outfits that I genuinely like (which always makes the work day a little better). Keeping in the medical theme, here is my prescription for relief: Buy work clothes YOU LIKE.

    The more you try to keep yourself as two separate halves, the more you’ll feel like work is an awful drain of your life (and the more money you’ll spend maintaining two completely different wardrobes). Maybe try buying a few great office pieces (Club Monaco on ebay) and find ways to wear them both to work and for play.


    • holleigh says:

      When I first started work in an office that was my intention, but I ran into two problems. First, as soon as certain items and outfits became “work clothes” they lost their charm. My style in general shifted toward extremes. Second, when I have to choose between work and play clothes (because I can never afford both), play almost always wins. (Third, I just like to complain?)

      Anyway, I always find your work style to be inspiring (and, when I’m feeling particularly ambitious, have even tried to copy outfits for the office).


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